Summersweet really is a perfect description for Clethra. Pretty pink or white flowers smell sweet like honey and bloom in July and August when most shrubs have given up on blooming. Add to that its carefree nature and you have a perfect addition to the summer garden.
Clethra alnifolia is the main species grown for gardens currently. It is native to swampy areas from Texas east to Georgia and is a great choice for wet or low-lying areas of the Portland yard. All varieties adapt to sun or shade, but need more summer water if planted in sun. They are all hardy to USDA zone 4, -40f.
White flowers in spikes up to 6” long cover the plant in mid-July. Leaves are rich green with yellow and brown fall color.
Grows up to 30-36” tall, but spreads readily by rhizomes under ground forming a ‘colony’.
Tends to be top-heavy and a bit floppy.
Rose pink flowers hold their color better than other pink varieties. Clusters are 3-4” long and flowering occurs in July-August. Green leaves turn gold in autumn. Grows to 6-8’ tall & 4-6’ wide.
White flower spikes open two weeks after other varieties and bloom into September.
Growth is dense and upright, reaching 8-10’ x 6-8’ eventually.
This is a selection from seedlings of ‘Hummingbird’. It has the same white flowers but doesn’t have the floppy characteristic, so branching is stronger and flower spikes stand upright like candles.
It also is better behaved, staying in place rather than spreading under ground. It grows a bit taller, 5’ x 5’ at maturity.
Read up on some of our favorite shrubs and remember, this is only a smattering of the variety of shrubs we carry all year long! Note: Viewing a Native Plant will take you into our Native Plant section.